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Match Report

28 Apr 2007: Wasps v Leicester Tigers

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Match Report
Tigers's Badge Leicester Tigers 40
Wasps's Badge Wasps 26
Fixture Type: Guinness Premiership Venue: Welford Road
Match Date: Sat 28 Apr 2007, Kick Off: 15:05
Referee: Tony Spreadbury Touch Judge: Robin Goodliffe
Touch Judge: Ashley Reay

Tigers win ensures no play off place for Wasps

Despite a brave fightback in the last quarter, a three try raid for Leicester on either side of half time sealed victory for the Tigers this afternoon, by 40-26.

The win for the Midlanders mean no place in the play offs for Wasps in the first time in the five years of their existence, and leaves Wasps with a three week lay off before the Heineken Cup Final, again against Leicester, at Twickenham in three weeks time.

There was rarely a dull minute at Welford Road this afternoon, despite the disappointing result for Wasps, and a pulsating first half ended with the match very much in the balance at 19-14 in favour of the hosts.

The game began furiously, and Tigers had the best of the early possession, threatening the Wasps try line almost immediately from the kick off. A break through the middle from Shane Jennings, followed up by another from Ben Kay took them to within yards of the line where Wasps infringed to concede Goode's first penalty. Some effective carries from Martin Corry and Lewis Moody gave the Tigers fly half an easy second pot at goal minutes after for a 6-0 lead.

Wasps regrouped however, and quickly won a long distance penalty chance for Van Gisbergen. He was off target with that attempt, but when a Goode clearance attempt was charged down, his recovering forwards conceded a second penalty inside the 22, and the Wasps full back made no mistake.

Wasps had a glimpse of a chance soon after, when good approach work from Tom Rees, Tom Palmer and Paul Sackey on the right opened up space on the left, but Joe Worsley's offload as the overlap beckoned was marginally forward. Wasps continued to pressurise the home side in their own 22 however, and forced handling errors from the Tigers backs. Then, as Moody rather blatantly handled the ball in a ruck, he earned himself a yellow card from referee Wayne Barnes and a penalty that allowed Van Gisbergen to draw his side level at 6-6.

Tigers win ensures no play off place for Wasps

Ferocious collisions abounded, not least in the scrum where Barnes evened up the man count by sending Eoin Reddan to the bin after a scrum infringement in Wasps own 22 that allowed Goode to nudge Tigers ahead 9-6. Wasps however, replied with a try when stand in scrum half Josh Lewsey worked the blind side to hand a try to No8 James Haskell.

A further exchange of penalties preserved Wasps lead, but then, thanks to a beauty of a territorial kick from Goode, Tigers worked an attacking line out to within five metres before releasing the ball wide for Alesana Tuilagi to score in the corner. Goode's conversion allowed Tigers to go in 19-14 ahead at half time.

The visitors fumbled reception of the second half restart however, handed Tigers a series of scrummages on the Wasps line that resulted in a string of penalties against them. Referee Barnes took action, yellow carding prop Peter Bracken, but with the pressure unremitting, Wasps collapsed a further scrum that prompted Barnes to award a penalty try.

With Goode's straightforward conversion allowing Tigers to build a useful lead, their confidence was clearly growing. Goode counter attacked from his own 22 and made it well into Wasps half before finding Harry Ellis in support, only Ellis's slip preventing Wasps from conceding again. However, finding themselves once more in the attacking third, Leicester pressed on and clever interpassing from Jennings and Corry allowed Hipkiss to score Tigers' third try of the day, Goode's conversion giving his team a commanding 33-14 lead.

With a man down Wasps could have imploded but, despite showing signs of being rattled they carved out some good opportunities as the hour mark approached.Van Gisbergen weaved a path through the middle on the counter attack, passing to Cipriani whose kick off the outside of his boot gave Wasps a five metre line out. Haskell came achingly close to scoring from the subsequent catch and drive, and when Wasps won a penalty in close to the posts, Reddan's opportunity looked to have arrived. However, his quick tap was missed by Van Gisbergen, who got caught in possession as Reddan offloaded to him. Tigers pounced, turned over the ball and ran the length of the pitch for Moody to score in the corner for the bonus point.

Wasps continued the fight however, and a simple straight run from replacement centre Ayoola Erinle pulled Wasps back to 41-21, replacement Walder converting from in front of the posts with eight minutes remaining.

Substitute scrum half Mark McMillan continued the comeback, latching on to a counter attacking run up the middle from Lewsey to score Wasps third of the day, but with six minutes remaining, Leicester were not about to let this one slip away, winning possession and keeping it to ensure a final 40-26 win that secures them a home tie in the play off semis next weekend.

Asked after the game if the result was an omen of what was to come in the Heineken Cup Final at Twickenham in three weeks time, Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan said, 'I hope not!'

'We'd done a lot of good things up to half time, but we knew we were going to have to be disciplined and focussed in the second half as the wind was going to be a factor. We had missed scoring opportunities in the first half, but effectively it was the first ten minutes after half time that secured the result. We put ourselves in a corner - literally - lost a prop to the sin bin and couldn't get out of that corner. Those are the things you don't want to be doing against Leicester and that was the game lost I think.

Discussing Wasps preparations for the Heineken Cup Final, that includes two fallow weekends during the Guinness Premiership play finals, McGeechan said, 'We'll be training full on and we'll be looking to play some rugby as well.'